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Monday, April 22, 2013

Data security an essential component of establishing consumer trust

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Customer satisfaction is rightly considered a priority for virtually every business. The reasoning is fairly straightforward: consumers who have a positive experience with a given company will be likely to return and to recommend the organization to friends, families and even strangers via the seemingly ubiquitous review aggregator websites that populate the internet, thereby attracting more customers.

The bigger question is how a firm can achieve customer satisfaction. Obviously, this is a complex issue with a variety of components. The effectiveness of the products and services offered is undoubtedly a major element, as is the quality and availability of customer support.

An additional factor, one which is frequently overlooked, is consumer trust. Trust is often taken for granted until it is no longer there, at which point a company can expect to lose a huge percentage of its customers as its reputation crumbles. That is why it is so important for firms to put a premium on secure file sharing tools and strategies to protect customer data.

Assumptions
As a general rule, consumers naturally assume that the information that they provide to a given company will remain safe and secure. To a significant degree, this is due to the simple fact that normally, this will be the case. Reports of data breaches may seem fairly common, but in reality such incidents are relatively rare, and most people will not be personally affected by these events.

However, one consequence for this state of affairs is that when a consumer does have his or her information exposed by a corporate data breach, the impact is all the greater for its unexpectedness. While people are becoming more aware of data breaches in general, there is still a sense of shell shock when a customer receives the notification that his or her credit card number or other personal information has been exposed. This sense is even greater if the individual discovers that he or she is the victim of a data breach only after identity theft or fraud has occurred.

Fallout
Once a consumer has been the victim of a corporate data breach, it is unlikely that he or she will patronize that company again. Even more importantly is the view from the firm's perspective. This individual will likely spread word of the incident, encouraging others to patronize competitors instead of this business. There is also likely to be news coverage, which will further drive away potential and existing customers.

This is why data protection should be seen as a key component of customer satisfaction and treated as such.

To achieve a sufficient level of information protection, firms need to take a number of steps. One is investing in high-grade secure file sharing tools, which can protect the integrity of corporate data as it is sent, received and shared by employees.

Additionally, business leaders need to engage their workers on this topic, emphasizing the importance of best practices for ensuring the security of all corporate information, and particularly customers' private, sensitive data.